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View Full Version : Turks and Caicos - Providenciales



TxHockeyGuy
09-09-2007, 08:54
Well I for all intense and purposes just completed my first blue water dives. I did do one blue water dive on Grand Cayman last year but on a completely dead reef. You'll have to excuse the length of the trip report, might be a good time to get a cup of coffee before you start reading.

This was a family vacation that I turned into a dive vacation for myself. We stayed at Beaches Turks and Caicos which is an all inclusive in Grace bay on Providenciales, more commonly referred to as provo. The resort was nice and actually includes diving as part of the all inclusive but with a lot of restrictions, more on that later. This resort is definitely designed for the family with kids, more so younger kids. They have a section of the resort with lots of kids activities so they mostly stay over in that area but they do go all over but for the most part they were never really bothersome. The food ranged from mediocre to great, just depended on the restaurant and whether it was lunch or dinner, sometimes lunch would be better than dinner at a particular restaurant. They also had an all you can eat seafood buffet one night which included king crab and lobster, I way overate at that one. They also had 5 or 6 pools almost all with swim up bars, they also had premium liquor available everywhere (Glenlivet, Crown Royal, etc). The staff everywhere was great but I think I'd prefer a smaller resort as this one is huge, and I'd prefer to hit up some of the local restaurants. That being said if you're looking for a one stop all-inclusive, this is a good one. If you do go you should probably consider going during low season, we were there for 2 days where it was very busy and as soon as labor day hit it emptied out as all the kids needed to be back in school.

Now onto the dive operators.

I did 6 dives with the Beaches on site dive op. They are definitely a cattle boat operation geared towards your brand new just certified OW diver. They require everyone to go through an orientation dive in a pool where you must show that you have buoyancy skills, can completely remove and then clear your mask, and do a manual inflation of your BCD. I don't really have a problem with this especially after seeing some of the divers out on their boats, I saw at least 2 divers crash into the reef and obliterate a coral head. If you only have an OW card you are limited to 60 ft, regardless of your experience level. If there are enough AOW divers to form a group they let you go down to 100 ft, this only happened once. They do allow buddy diving after you complete one dive with them and have a computer but they preferred to not allow anyone with only an OW card do so, but would if pushed. I did get to do one buddy dive with another guy on the boat which was quite enjoyable as we weren't being led around by a DM and we could run our own profile/dive. All dives are limited to 45 minutes max which given some of the profiles they were having us run had me coming up with as much as 1300 psi, and I don't exactly have the best air consumption in the world. They also would almost always go to just Grace Bay dive sites which means there are only 4 sites. They did go out to French Cay once for a 2 tank that I know of, and possibly a second time while I was there, but I couldn't make that 2 tank trip. Unfortunately I never got to go to what was widely regarded as the best dive site, Aquarium, as we always had junior OW divers with us and the dive started at around 60 ft, the DM's would let OW divers go down to 70 ft on this dive because they couldn't do it otherwise and it was definitely the favorite site among the DM's. Every dive I went on was a wall dive, with the wall starting somewhere between 35 and 45 ft down. At grace bay the wall ended somewhere between 100 and 150 ft depending on the site. I dove Piranha's Cove, Cathedral, and Pinnacles with Pinnacles by far being the better of the three dives. Cathedral and Piranha's cover are fairly standard wall dives, Pinnacles had lots of large and deep crevices which nurse shark, rays, sea turtles, and lobsters would like to hang out in. I saw far more of those at this site than at any of the other grace bay sites. The coral at each site was practically identical, it wasn't as bad as I figured it would be given how often it is dove, but I really don't have a good gauge of what is considered a good reef as these are the first live reefs I've seen. There were plenty of the usual reef fish regardless of where you went as well as the above and if you were paying attention you could even spot the occasional moray, although they were hard to spot and fairly small when I did spot them. Conch is another thing you could spot on the shelf if you knew what to look for, the locals love Conch and you could see them out free diving for them in some areas. I tried to get in a night dive which is an extra $80 but they could never get 5 divers signed up so it never happened, oh well, next trip.

The other dive op I tried was Caicos Adventures which was not included in the resort price. I paid $110 for a 2 tank plus $12 per tank for nitrox. I did 4 dives total with them and it was night and day different from Beaches. I never came up with more than 550 psi so I got the most out of my tank every time. Most of my dives were still in and around 45 minutes but we were staying much deeper longer as that's where some of the best things to see on these sites were. They ran us out with about 12-14 divers on a 54' custom designed catamaran. I have been out on the standard newton dive boats in Cayman and in Grace Bay and this boat put them to shame, so much more room, better layout, smoother ride out, cleaner, obviously better maintained, and they try not to put more than 14 divers on a boat. It is definitely not your typical cattle boat operations and they do not dive Grace Bay. They primarily dive French Cay and West Caicos which is about a 50 minute boat ride out, that might sound like a long time but it flies by. The water on the one day was so calm that you could see and easily make out rays, sharks, and other fish on the ride out. My first dive was at a site called Gulley out at West Caicos, which had no mooring and I got the distinct impression that other dive ops do not know about this site. This was by far my most fun dive. The sea floor starts at about 45' at which point the wall descends down into the abyss. We had a good 80' of vis at this site, maybe 100', and there was a nice swim through that led down to about 75'. What makes this site special are Sally the reef shark, and Tony Montana the Nassau grouper. Apparently these two are so used to divers out there they like to come right up to the divers and boy did they get close. The reef shark would swim along with you at about 6-8' away which was a real trip. Tony on the other hand liked to get much closer, I had to adjust several times as he was just about to run me into the reef, he was easily within 6 inches of me several times and he liked to be petted, something I didn't do. He really liked to have his chin rubbed, I've never seen or heard of anything like this before. Tony was quite the large grouper, easily 3.5' long. We also saw two sea turtles that appeared to be playing with each other and were swimming around each other, they were doing this not 8' from us and we had practically the entire boat just hovering watching them. About this time we needed to continue heading back to the boat due to how much air we all had left so I followed the DM through the swim through back up which brought a great surprise. There was a nurse shark sleeping in the swim through and when we went through we were only about 1' from the shark, then Tony apparently got jealous because he moved himself between the shark and myself. It was getting a little crowded in there with the three of us but it was a great experience, looking right into that nurse sharks eyes not more than a foot or two away was awesome. I made sure to always leave a way out for the shark as I didn't want it to feel cornered, even though it's a nurse shark, it's still a shark and I'd rather not be on the receiving end of anything. He appeared to be quite comfortable with the divers as he let most of us swim past him before he decided to move on and find another place. The second dive I had with them was far less eventful but still saw larger fish than in Grace bay, a few rays, some reef sharks, and some lobster. The vis was down to only about 40' at the end which obviously bothered some of the other divers who obviously don't dive in the lower vis lakes or quarries. Apparently there was a salvage/treasure operation running nearby and their vacuums were stirring everything up. The first dive of the next day started off much the same, seeing rays, sharks, a puffer fish, some lobster but turned quite serious when one of the divers had a regulator malfunction. At around 90' I noticed him messing with his second stage and then quickly swimming towards the DM at which point he went into an air share. Apparently both his primary and octo were giving him water, I later found out. I went and rounded up the rest of the group as the DM had his hands quite full at the time and only one other diver had noticed what had happened. I can tell you swimming hard at that depth gathering the two others had me quite narc'd. An interesting feeling that I'd care to avoid again, at about 70' the feeling went away. We finished the dive puttering in around under the boat which wasn't nearly as interesting but hey, stuff happens and I'm certainly not going to be complaining given what happened, which was handled very well by both the DM and the diver who had the problem I might add. The next dive was very similar to the others with lots of shark, rays, and even a couple of puffer fish and a moray, a thoroughly enjoyable dive. The DM's with this outfit were great, it didn't feel like babysitting which is how I felt with Beaches. They were just there to make your dive that much better and if you didn't want to dive with the DM that was no problem at all.

I had a really great time and later I'll post some pictures. One unfortunate event was my underwater camera flooded on the third dive I took it down on, I still haven't been able to determine why but I certainly wasn't going to let that put a damper on the vacation.

Foo2
09-09-2007, 09:17
Wow TxHockeyGuy! Sounds like you had a great trip! Thanks for the detailed report! Sounds like a beautiful place. I'm glad you had a great time!

Coaster
09-09-2007, 16:48
Thanks for the report.

cutter77
09-09-2007, 21:18
Good report....liked the contrast between the two ops.
Thanks for taking the time. ~

divingmedic
09-10-2007, 11:40
I dove at Beaches in 2006, like you I was not impressed. Thanks for the great trip report.

tarheeldiver
09-12-2007, 20:28
sounds like you described Caicos Adventures perfectly a wonderful dive op
are Claire and Andy still dm's there?

SHAGGY
09-13-2007, 07:05
Hey great report,..... and dont forget to show those pics soon.

toecheese
09-14-2007, 10:45
Hi....I think I dove with you at Beaches TCI. Thanks for turning me on to this site and scubaboard. I am glad to hear that you had a good time with the other company. Did they run you to the south side of the island? BTW, the treasure hunter boats are owned by the guy who patented the WIFI b + g standards. Thanks again

TxHockeyGuy
09-14-2007, 10:48
We were out at West Caicos and French Cay, which is southwest of Provo. If you're who I think you are then I haven't forgotten about sending you those pictures. I still don't have them up on my site as work has been crazy busy since I've been back. As soon as I get them up I'll send you a link to the email address you gave me, my family and friends are both giving me crap about not getting them up yet.

Glad you found your way to the forums.

coralcrazed
09-16-2007, 22:31
well, that was a fun read... I have the fortunate expierience of diving both curicau and turks and caicos... I actually stayed on beaches myself and me and the entire family loved this place. I'm surprised that you did not mention the beach. and I think you missed out on the best part. the snorkling just off the beach a 5 min. walk down from the resort. Turks was awsome. yes some babysitting by the DM but I like it that way:) anyhow, turtles and sharks and so much more to see. Nice wall dives and ben on the two tank trip. I found them to be well prepared and made sure you logged your dives. back to the snokling. although the diving I found to be really good. after the dives since my wife does not dive. We went snorkling. tis reef litterally started right on the beach and we got to see just as much on that reef that I did diving. I would highly recomend beaches resort. one more thing you mentioned the restaurants but again left out one favorite of mine... the sushi bar. always fresh and always plenty of it. mnnnnnn. I'd love to go back one day. it was super nice. also they allowed us to come up with 500 psi on many dives and I had 850 on one. Than again I'm a houver.

TxHockeyGuy
09-16-2007, 22:38
well, that was a fun read... I have the fortunate expierience of diving both curicau and turks and caicos... I actually stayed on beaches myself and me and the entire family loved this place. I'm surprised that you did not mention the beach. and I think you missed out on the best part. the snorkling just off the beach a 5 min. walk down from the resort. Turks was awsome. yes some babysitting by the DM but I like it that way:) anyhow, turtles and sharks and so much more to see. Nice wall dives and ben on the two tank trip. I found them to be well prepared and made sure you logged your dives. back to the snokling. although the diving I found to be really good. after the dives since my wife does not dive. We went snorkling. tis reef litterally started right on the beach and we got to see just as much on that reef that I did diving. I would highly recomend beaches resort. one more thing you mentioned the restaurants but again left out one favorite of mine... the sushi bar. always fresh and always plenty of it. mnnnnnn. I'd love to go back one day. it was super nice. also they allowed us to come up with 500 psi on many dives and I had 850 on one. Than again I'm a houver.

Well I never went to the snorkeling area, really hate sand, and don't eat sushi. So guess why I didn't report on any of those :). Also after talking to some people who read my report I want to make it clear that i am not saying that I wouldn't dive at Beaches again, especially considering it is part of the all inclusive. All I am saying in comparing the two ops is that Beaches doesn't stack up against some of the dedicated dive outfits for divers with more experience. Beaches however was still what I would consider good diving, just more supervised than I like.

coralcrazed
09-16-2007, 23:52
well, that was a fun read... I have the fortunate expierience of diving both curicau and turks and caicos... I actually stayed on beaches myself and me and the entire family loved this place. I'm surprised that you did not mention the beach. and I think you missed out on the best part. the snorkling just off the beach a 5 min. walk down from the resort. Turks was awsome. yes some babysitting by the DM but I like it that way:) anyhow, turtles and sharks and so much more to see. Nice wall dives and ben on the two tank trip. I found them to be well prepared and made sure you logged your dives. back to the snokling. although the diving I found to be really good. after the dives since my wife does not dive. We went snorkling. tis reef litterally started right on the beach and we got to see just as much on that reef that I did diving. I would highly recomend beaches resort. one more thing you mentioned the restaurants but again left out one favorite of mine... the sushi bar. always fresh and always plenty of it. mnnnnnn. I'd love to go back one day. it was super nice. also they allowed us to come up with 500 psi on many dives and I had 850 on one. Than again I'm a houver.

Well I never went to the snorkeling area, really hate sand, and don't eat sushi. So guess why I didn't report on any of those :). Also after talking to some people who read my report I want to make it clear that i am not saying that I wouldn't dive at Beaches again, especially considering it is part of the all inclusive. All I am saying in comparing the two ops is that Beaches doesn't stack up against some of the dedicated dive outfits for divers with more experience. Beaches however was still what I would consider good diving, just more supervised than I like.

cool, but... I will be the first to saythat I'm in no way an expierienced diver. and 51-100 is not that much more to qualify as an expert wouldn't you say? Its too bad that you did not snorkel due to not liking the sand. Its and awsome site and I would reccomend it again and again. I've never seen such a pristine reef so close like that. as for sushi... next time you dive just use you knife and go for a snack.:smiley2: I gree with what you are saying about supervised though.